To shatter the glass ceiling, seven seasoned professionals, including Directors and Founders, share their insights on pitfalls to avoid. From embracing your unique self to seeking feedback for self-improvement, these leaders offer a roadmap for women aiming for the executive suite. We've also saved the best for last - so stay tuned!
Embrace Your Unique Self
Don't change who you are to accommodate the perception of what is needed for an executive position. Leaning into what makes you YOU is your thrive zone, and you will organically attract the positions that desperately need your unique self.
Executive positions have too often been handed to white men based on privilege and connections, and the world has suffered for it. It's time for women to embrace their unique talents and strengths and align themselves with organizations that see the value in them.
Seek Mentorship and Advocate for Yourself Through High-Visibility Projects
Take deliberate steps to secure a mentor or sponsor, preferably someone within your current company or industry, who can offer invaluable insights into navigating the path toward executive positions. Ideally, seek someone who can not only guide you but also advocate for your advancement. Learn from their experiences and guidance to strategize your career progression.
Proactively highlight and promote your accomplishments. If you sense that your contributions are being overlooked, take the initiative to ensure their visibility and measurability, especially in high-impact projects. Regularly schedule check-ins with your managers to discuss your career trajectory, growth plans, and specific milestones. Clearly articulate the actions you are committed to taking in order to realize your professional aspirations.
Speak Up in Power Corridors
One common mistake that women should avoid if they aim to shatter the glass ceiling and ascend to executive positions in their organizations is succumbing to the trap of silence—being too quiet and not outspoken enough. In the often male-dominated corridors of power, your voice is not just a tool; it's a weapon. It's a vital means of asserting your presence, your ideas, and your worth.
Too often, women are subtly conditioned to fit into a mold of complacency, to nod in agreement rather than challenge, to smooth over rather than stir up. The corporate battlefield is no place for shrinking violets. It demands boldness, a willingness to engage in the occasionally heated debate, and the courage to speak up for what is best for the business and its people.
Remember, every meeting room is a stage, and every discussion an opportunity to showcase your acumen and vision. By holding back, you risk rendering yourself invisible in a sea of assertive voices. This isn't just about being loud; it's about being heard. It's about articulating your ideas with conviction, challenging the status quo when necessary, and demonstrating that you are a force to be reckoned with.
Embracing your unique voice is a testament to your authenticity. It's about not letting others mold you into their expectations but rather carving your own path, fueled by creativity, not complacency. It's about building a network of relationships where your voice is not just recognized but sought after.
The mistake to avoid is not the lack of ideas or capability, but the failure to vocally assert them. Be the woman who's ready to kick down doors, who refuses to be content with the status quo, and who recognizes that her voice is her most potent asset in the journey to the top.
Hesitation and procrastination will only hold you back. Sometimes you have to just dive in, take the risk, and put yourself out on a limb. It won't always work out exactly as you'd like, but it will certainly achieve a lot more than sitting back and keeping schtum!
Overcome Self-Doubt and Impostor Syndrome
One common mistake that women should avoid when striving to break through the glass ceiling and attain executive positions is succumbing to self-doubt and impostor syndrome. These internal barriers can significantly hinder career progress and professional growth. When women doubt their own capabilities and feel like they don't belong in leadership roles, they are less likely to seize opportunities and advocate for themselves. This lack of self-assurance can undermine their confidence, communication skills, and overall leadership presence.
To overcome this challenge, it's essential for women to work on building self-confidence and recognizing their own worth. Seeking mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals, both men and women, can provide valuable insights and support in overcoming impostor syndrome.
Additionally, participating in professional development programs and networking opportunities can help women develop the skills and self-assuredness needed to excel in executive positions. It's crucial to remember that self-doubt is a common hurdle faced by many successful individuals, and by addressing it head-on and seeking support, women can break through the glass ceiling and achieve their career aspirations with greater confidence and determination.
Seek Feedback for Self-Improvement
One common mistake women should avoid is neglecting to seek feedback and actively work on self-improvement. By proactively seeking feedback from supervisors, peers, and subordinates, women can identify areas for improvement and enhance their skills, competencies, and leadership abilities. Embracing feedback helps in addressing weaknesses, building self-awareness, and positioning themselves for executive positions.
For instance, a woman aspiring to a leadership role may ask for feedback on her communication style, decision-making process, or strategic thinking, and then actively work on enhancing these areas through training, mentorship, or self-study.
Showcase Your Achievements
Climbing the corporate ladder can be challenging, especially for women aiming for executive roles.
One common mistake to avoid is downplaying your achievements or skills. Sometimes, we tend to be modest about our accomplishments, thinking they speak for themselves. However, it's crucial to actively communicate and showcase your successes. Make sure your contributions are visible, and don't hesitate to take credit for your hard work. Own your achievements with confidence, and let others recognize your value.
Recognize When It's Time to Explore Other Opportunities
You've clocked hours, taken on more responsibilities, sacrificed, raised your hand, and communicated with hope. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn't.
Recognize that lifelong loyalty, even to historically accommodating employers, isn't an unbreakable contract. Explore external opportunities for better prospects and engage in conversations beyond your current space for new insights.
Breaking through the glass ceiling demands knowing where it is and what it's made of. Your current company provides a limited view. Broaden your horizons to discover the vast opportunities that await.
Keep proving yourself, but remember, you don't owe a lifelong commitment to any one organization. Exploring external opportunities isn't disloyalty; it's strategic.
Ready to Break The Glass Ceiling and Make Your Next Career Move? Or Need Experts in Candidate Experience to Help You Hire Top Talent?
Embark on your journey with confidence! Contact us for a confidential discussion, whether you're ready to make your next career move or are seeking assistance in hiring top-tier executive talent.
Kepler Search is a boutique executive search firm based in Asia with global reach providing unrivalled access to premier talent, market insights, and local knowledge to support business growth. We deliver top talent across key business functions and industries, including Commodities & Energy, Oil & Gas, LNG, Utilities, Power, Natural Resources, Metals & Mining, Renewables, Agribusiness, Data Centers, and Infrastructure Investments.